Theodore A. Young interview with Tales of Cape Cod, July 11,
Born in 1900, Mr. Young describes his childhood experiences with his grandfather Nickerson who was Deputy Sheriff for Barnstable County and who was in charge of the prisoners at the jail. He describes the jail and the life of prisoners. Mr. Young was a Mason and describes what it was like being a member of the Masonic Hall.
He recalls Mr. Alonzo Chase who built the Pleasant Bay Sharpies, which were 16 foot boats used to catch quahogs. He recalls seeing over 40 sharpies as a teenager. He also recalls seeing a German submarine sink a barge off of Orleans. The barges contained paving stones and the Lifesaving Service saved the men on the tugboats that were pulling the barges. Over 400 people were watching the attack. Some shells missed the barge and came on to land. Mr. Young recalls his mother’s workday cooking meals and washing clothes. As an adult he worked as a driver for Nickerson Lumber for seven years and then became a fisherman harvesting sea scallops. His first work boat was a Crosby Cat Boat measuring 24 feet long with a 12 foot beam. He would drag for two days off Stellwagen Bank. Wholesale prices received in 1946 were around 40 cents a pound versus over $2.00 a pound in 1978. He recalls his chores as a child and his early school experiences.
Mr. Young describes his experiences during Prohibition and how he made money dragging for liquor that the rumrunners had thrown overboard. One of his customers was Judge Welsh in Provincetown. The gunny sacks contained high quality liquor such as benedictine and rye whiskey. He said the Coast Guard would confiscate the liquor and the boat if caught and very few people went to jail. He also recalls the workers at the Keith Car Works in Sagamore selling beer and wine from their living quarters. He also describes silent movies in Orleans costing 10 cents and seeing a sign in the movie house stating “Ladies, please remove your hats.”
He spent some of his youth on Nantucket and remembers seeing his first car in 1910, a Maxwell Runabout. It was forbidden to come into town because it scared the horses. The mail carrier would have to hook up a horse to the front of the car whenever he had to pick up mail in the town post office. Mr. Young’s father was a member of the Lifesaving Service on Nantucket and in Orleans. He gives a lengthy description of what it was like working in the Lifesaving Service and later the Coast Guard.
The Tales of Cape Cod Oral History Collection is housed at the William Brewster Nickerson Archives in the Wilkens Library at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, Massachusetts. For more information about the collection, please contact the Nickerson Archives, http://www.nickersonarchives.org/.